Een niet zo Verenigd Koninkrijk

Nieuws | de redactie
30 augustus 2011 | Engelse politici zijn woedend over beleid in Schotland om gratis HO-studies te bieden aan Schotten en studenten uit andere EU-naties, terwijl de rest van het UK zo’n £9.000 per jaar moet ophoesten. Advocaten zijn in touw en het beladen woord ‘collegegeld-apartheid’ klinkt al.

47 out of the 123 English universities are set to triple their tuition fees from 2012 on. UK’sPrime Minister David Cameron implemented this ‘graduate tax’ tooffset university budget cuts worth £200 million (€226million).

Scotland’s government is not willing to follow suit and plans tocontinue offering free education to Scottish students. Studentsfrom England, Wales and Northern Ireland, however, will not benefitfrom free education having to pay up to £9.000 (€10.170) atScottish universities from 2012 on.

Free for Scots, Dutch,Greeks

The catch: even students from other EU countries will study forfree in Scotland as EU laws forbid to charge different rates forstudents from other EU countries. Due to a loophole, however, thisdoes not apply to the other members of the UK, argues the Scottishgovernment.

This has caused an uproar in English media bashing such ‘feesapartheid’ in their fellow British nation. A group of lawyers nowannounced to file charges against Scotland stating that the newpolicy violated Article 14 of the European Convention on HumanRights prohibiting discrimination based on “national or socialorigin”.

Manageable cross-borderflows

In a reaction to ScienceGuide, Universities Scotland, therepresentative of all Scottish universities, lamented that “muchmisinformed reporting” had been going on in British media regardingthis issue. The higher fees for students from the rest-of-UK (RUK)had to be introduced to “ensure that cross-border flows of studentsremain manageable”.

“Failure to raise the fee-level for students from the rest ofthe UK coming to Scotland would have meant Scottish universitieswould be viewed as a ‘cheap option’, contrasted with England,  putting untenable pressure on places at Scottishuniversities,” Universities Scotland adds in a public statement.

The new measures are meant to avoid a massive influx of RUKstudents. At present around 20.000 of them are enrolled inundergraduate studies in Scotland. The new measures will “protectthe number of places available to Scottish students” and “redressthe teaching funding cuts which Scottish universities have faced inthe tough financial environment”.

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